In order to check that all of our gear is working ok and to get our weighting correct as well as to prove that we still know how to dive (the theory being that we may have forgotten since the last time), the first dive of any live aboard is known as the Check Dive and usually takes place at a calm dive spot with little to distract you other than the sandy bottom.
When you are on a liveaboard, ideally the check dive takes place close enough to a dive shop so that if something is seriously broken and has to be replaced, you can nip ashore and flex your credit card. The most common faults are with regulators although it is not unknown for someone to unpack their gear and find they have left something crucial behind and then have to replace it.
Normally all of the dive guides also join in the check dive, not because they need the practice but because it gives them a chance to observe you, your techniques and your confidence. Also, if it has been more than six months since your last dive, they may want to see you demonstrate some of the key safety techniques (flooded mask, changing to the octopus, cramp etc).
The Karumba House Reef lies just off an atoll which has a hotel on it as well as mooring for boats. The Dhoni takes us
there and we are given a somewhat rudimentary dive plan
which essentially says that this is a slow drift dive (reef on the left shoulder) with the best things between 15m and 10m on the reef wall. Water temperature is 29c and so there is no need to wear my 5mm, just a Rash Vest. Other divers choose anything from the same as me through to a 7mm, depending on what they have brought with them.
As we giant stride into the sea, I again get the tremendous nervous excitement feeling of the first dive after a period of rest. I initially guess a weight of 8kg but because I am diving with 15ltr aluminium tanks, I expect to find that this will make me too heavy and it is no surprise to find that I am over weighted and so I reduce to 6 kg and expect to go lower to 5kg during the week as I regain technique. Had I been wearing my 5mm suit, then I would probably have needed the extra 2 kg to negate the additional buoyancy.
The reef is unremarkable but it is interesting to see numerous
Red Toothed Trigger fish who have the habit of hiding in a nearby crevice when they sense you coming – the problem for them is that they
always leave their tails hanging out and therefore are not as invisible as they might want.
Other fish include numerous Wrasse (such as the above) and the Long Nosed Butterfly Fish, so called for obvious
reasons. The reef seems quite young in that the coral is not large
This Terrace Coral is about 50cm across but shows some lovely lines
This coral (Above and below) has some Feather Stars
living on it – these feed of plankton in the water which is caught by the “fronds” and then “conveyed” down to their mouths.
and the Meandering Coral looks clean and healthy.
After 50 minutes, my buddy runs out of air (actually he has reached the lower safety limit of 50 bar) and so it is time to
surface, put up our SMBs (again good to practice), do our 5metre safety stop and clamber on to the Dhoni – breakfast awaits.